BEYOND AFROBEAT, IT’S A REGRET NOT HAVING AFRO HIP-HOP

BEYOND AFROBEAT, IT’S A REGRET NOT HAVING AFRO HIP-HOP

‘…Afrobeat music, the consciousness affiliated to hip-hop
music and its elements such as fashion and language allows hip-hop music to
spread within the youth who are the most active music generation. While
other countries saw this wave in the industry, they quickly put their mark
on it like the Ghanaians did by infusing hip-hop with highlife music and
tagged it ‘Hip-life,’ now registered as a sub-genre or a fusion of hip-hop
music..’ – Sesan Adeniji

All over the world today, everyone has jumped on the bandwagon to celebrate
Afrobeat, one of the most unique music genres to ever originate from Africa
but only a few could have withstood the pressure Fela went through to stand
by his belief during various years when other music genres like highlife
and reggae trended in the country.

In a society like ours today, where artistes are judged by the number of
record sales, trending songs and the number of audiences that attend a show
( i.e. Wizkid being called a legend because he sold out a five thousand
sitter show space), to be candid, Fela never sold enough records compared
to the artistes of his time but this was never based on lack of content in
his music but the hypocrisy in the society that made a lot of folks not to
allow their family members openly purchase his records or attend his shows
because they thought his music too much far right because he was speaking
to the political elite that was depriving the nation.  But despite the
pressure, Fela still stood by what he believes in and made of history.

That said, outside Afrobeat music, the consciousness affiliated to hip-hop
music and its elements such as fashion and language allows hip-hop music to
spread within the youth who are the most active music generation. While
other countries saw this wave in the industry, they quickly put their mark
on it like the Ghanaians did by infusing hip-hop with highlife music and
tagged it ‘Hip-life,’ now registered as a sub-genre or a fusion of hip-hop
music. The Nigerians active in the hip-hop circle then, especially those
close to the media lacked the right vision, so they were dictating the
hip-hop narrative like: 1. You must be a battle emcee. 2. You must not
adulterate it with Pidgin English otherwise you are razz; and 3. You must
not include your mother tongue otherwise you are selling out.

To them you must be a copycat of their hip-hop royalties from New York or
California. When some industry heads were advocating that it’s important we
infuse our mother tongue and Afro/ highlife beat into hip-hop and tag it
Afro-hip hop, these few non-conformists militated against it. They dictated
the narrative but could not change the perception of how people saw this
genre and the idea of what it will become. Now, *local lo pawo* (Localizing
hip-hop is what has made it successful). If everything had gone as planned,
with the great exploits of Nigerian artistes all over the world, we would
by now be at the point of not just pioneering Afrobeat but promoting Afro
hip-hop.

Sesan Adeniji

Culled from Mystreetz magazine( Photography and Photographers edition )

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